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The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder by Mary Jane Maffini

Title: The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder (A Charlotte Adams Professional Organizer Mystery #5)

Author: Mary Jane Maffini

First published in 2011; republished by Beyond the Page Publishing on 14th Sept 2021

Genre: Cozy Mystery | Humor

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Charlotte Adams receives a call from Mona Pringle, the 911 operator whom Charlotte has called multiple times in the past (while solving case, that is). Mona tells Charlotte the mean girls who terrorized her and many other children at St Jude’s is back in town. Their leader, Serena, wants to make amends. But Mona does not believe her. Mona tells Charlotte if she sees Serena, she will kill her by running the car over her.

The next day, Charlotte wakes up to hearing about a hit-and-run case in town; the victim was run over by a car. Mona is worried – after all, she said she might do something similar to Serena and now, someone who looked like Serena is run over by a car. Charlotte thinks Mona is still traumatized by the bullying she went through in school and decides to investigate. Charlotte wants to do whatever it takes to save Mona – even when her ‘group of misfits’ friends ask her to stay away…

The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder is the fifth book in Mary Jane Maffini’s A Charlotte Adams Professional Organizer Mystery series. This book also won the 2012 Romantic Times Award for Amateur Sleuth. Over the past couple of months, Beyond the Page Publishing has republished the first five books of this series – Maffini is currently working on book #6.

Sweet Marie and Truffles, Charlotte’s two Weiner dogs are finally selected as Woodbrigde Therapy Dogs. In the past two books – Death Loves a Messy Desk and Closet Confidential, we saw Charlotte desperately trying to train her dogs. She was initially unsuccessful but when her best friend Jack pitched in, the dogs were finally trained. Charlotte is thinking ‘this is just another work week’ when she receives a call from Mona Pringle. Mona says ‘she’s back’. Charlotte has no idea who Mona is talking about. When she finally learns Serena is back, she wonders why Mona is getting all worked-up about it. Soon, Charlotte learns the mean girls gang – consisting of Charlotte, Haley, Jasmin and Tiffanee – terrorized and bullied a lot of girls back at St Jude’s – including Charlotte’s group of misfit friends.

Haley attends Charlotte’s workshop and they connect. Haley asks for forgiveness and Charlotte doesn’t understand why she’s asking for one – until she learns her high-school-date-with-a-handsome-classmate was canceled because of a rumor spread by the mean girls.

When another person is killed by hit-and-run, Mona goes into hiding. She fears for her life and it is up to Charlotte to help her out. But, help at what cost? Charlotte’s friends warn her to stay away – after all, she’s been attacked by killers in her previous amateur sleuthing cases.

It goes without saying The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder is yet another fantastic addition to my favorite series. I can clearly see why this book won an award – it is simply the best! In fact, this is my new favorite in the series. In the previous book, Charlotte was (on and off) dating detective Tierney. But she later realizes Jack, her best friend, is more than ‘just a friend.’ This realization is further explored in this book.

The mystery behind the murders with a hit-and-run MO kept me on the edge of my seat. The suspense is mind-blowing. The identity of the perp was a huge shocker. Like, HUGE shocker! The ending makes you say ‘aww’ with hearts, blushes, kisses, and all the mushy stuff.

The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder by Mary Jane Maffini is an engrossing and completely entertaining cozy mystery. If you love quirky cozies, you might want to give this book a read. Though this can be read as a standalone, I recommend you to start from book #1. Given the way things ended in this book, I am pretty sure things are going to spice-up a tad in the next one. *wide smile*


Many thanks to Beyond the Page Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC.

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